Happy Birthday Duke – Mural Sadly Still Missing from U Street

12th and U Street, NW

In Sept. of last year we learned that:

“Local Artist Byron Peck would create a replica of his Duke Ellington mural on U Street. The Commission looked at all of the options for preservation. The structure behind the mural was eroding. The best option is a replica and Peck has agreed. The goal is to have an unveiling and installation by Duke Ellington’s birthday in April 2014.”

A spokeswoman for D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities now tells me:

“Thank you for your interest in the Duke Ellington mural on U Street NW. Before installing the artwork, the team needs an assessment of the structure to ensure it is sound and safe. That process is taking longer than anticipated. We do not yet have a date for installation.”

The iconic Duke Ellington mural was removed from the True Reformer building at 12th and U St, NW back in May 2012. At that time we were told repair could take up to a year. I hope it returns one day.


After the jump you can see a different Duke Ellington Mural off the beaten path in West End.



13 Comment

  • Bring back Duke!

    I love that mural! Also, it celebrates the historical legacy of both U Street and the greatest musical export of our city!

  • I would love to see the old Coke and Gray & Gray Druggist signs re-done. There are other buildings on U Street where to Duke mural could go that would not be covering signs that were there first.

    • I would rather see that as well. Not a fan of the mural at all. Looks dated to me.

    • Agreed. I like that Coke sign better. Put the mural somewhere else, there are plenty walls in the city.

    • Glad I’m not the only one! I prefer those signs so much more than the Duke mural. I’m actually not really a fan of the mural, or of most murals, and I say that as someone who studied art for many years. They look dated very quickly. I know they’re usually meant to beautify rundown areas, but I think a fresh coat of paint and some landscaping would have a much better effect. Obviously, there are exceptions – I’m a fan of the Mama Ayesha’s mural in Adams Morgan and the Nooshi mural on Barrack’s Row.

      • I totally agree. That is probably one of the largest Coke ad “murals” left in the country, esp. at 5 cents! Duke gets his due in a lot of other spots already, including the statue in front of Howard.

  • I think the perfect place for the Duke Ellington Mural to go would be on the side of the Howard Theatre.

  • Sounds like they’re dragging their feet.

  • I am surprised no one has suggested that the Coke sign should not be redone because Coke would get free / permanent advertising for an unhealthy sugary drink. If anything leave it aged and put the mural on another area building. I am sure one of the new developments would love to use the mural to swaggerjack some U Street / DC authenticity for marketing since using the District flag has been done to death at this point. The flag t-shirts, business logos with the flag were fine, but DC flag tattoos are now a thing?

  • I have not studied art for years (or ever beyond one semester of art slides, an easy ‘A’) but I like the murals; Marvin, Marilyn, Liz, Miles, Washington, Madams Organ etc. I especially loved the portion of the Ellington mural in the frame, since people still matter when they are old. I appreciate the artists’ skill and the murals don’t look dated to me. Like the Coca Cola sign each mural captures a point in time.

  • I hated that mural because it captured Duke Ellington in his old age. When Duke Ellington lived and played in the U Street area he was young and vibrant. Why did the painter decide to paint him in old age with wrinkles and bags under his eyes. I always thought it was a very disrespectful representation of him. However, I think that a new and better mural should take its place. A Duke Ellington mural belongs on U Street and it belongs right there on the side of the building where it was.

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